China charges brother of former aide to retired president over graft

BEIJING: China has charged the brother of a disgraced one-time aide to former President Hu Jintao with receiving bribes, the country's supreme court said on Sunday, the latest among a number of former officials to be accused.

Ling Zhengce, the former deputy head of the parliamentary advisory body in the coal-rich northern province of Shanxi, is the elder brother of Ling Jihua. The former aide to Hu was jailed for life in July, after a case which the ruling Communist Party has said caused major damage to its image.

The elder Ling used his political positions to seek benefits for others, including illegitimate gains, and illegally accepted large assets from others, the Chinese supreme court alleged in a statement on its website.

Ling will be tried in the city of Changzhou in the eastern province of Jiangsu, it said.

It was not possible to reach Ling Zhengce for comment and it is unclear if he has retained a lawyer. Authorities announced an investigation into Ling in June 2014.

Vice Premier Ma Kai last year described the corruption problem in Shanxi as "like a cancer". As one of China's top coal producing provinces, its economy boomed on the back of soaring energy demand over the past decade, one of the reasons state media has given for its corruption problem.

In January, China acknowledged for the first time that it is communicating with the United States about Ling Wancheng, a third brother. The government has given no details of any crime in which Ling is suspected, and he has not appeared on any wanted lists.

Since assuming power in late 2012, President Xi Jinping has pursued a relentless campaign against corruption, warning that the problem could threaten the Communist Party's ability to retain power, though some analysts say he is also eliminating rivals.

Also in Sunday's statement, China's supreme court said it was also charging both Chen Chuanping, a former Shanxi province standing committee member, and Sun Hongzhi, a former leading group member for the State Administration for Industry & Commerce, with bribery and other crimes.